Chapter 5 - Tony

Posted in By Aiden Cobb 1 comments

Flinching and being surprised are two traits Aiden had drilled out of himself. Things happen or things don't happen. Be ready for death but live life. Easy enough.

The apartment door is cracked open and he doesn't care. In his line of work if you're going to be killed, they fuckin' kill ya. There's no Hollywood prelude where the next two hours are spent trying to reverse that decision.

Tony “Tone Def” Stern's ass pokes out from behind the fridge door. He's rooting for something to eat in the land of condiments. Aiden half-heartedly wishes him luck with that.

Tony has a hawkish-look; thin build, hook nose, dark eyes, sullen face, and dirty skin. His clothing is mismatched: tennis shoes, tan polyester pants, green and white-striped alligator shirt and thin, blue corduroy jacket.

Tony got his nickname from the fact that he really is deaf. He wasn't always that way. Back in his early twenties Tony had been a smooth operator in the drug trade. Problems came when he crossed Thadeous Brown, a black gangster with enough attitude to serve a cellblock with room for dessert.

Two of Thad's thugs rounded Tony up and handcuffed him to a telephone pole in the middle of East Moses Nowhere. Next the goons took opposite sides and unloaded he didn't know how many clips of ammo but they shot 'em into the air, holding the gun barrels by his ears.

Most guys probably would've given up and given in after that. Not Tony though Aiden couldn't put together why. He changed his career title to “gopher,” doing whatever for whoever for the money. On occasion Aiden would imagine himself in that scenario: what he would do, how he would do it. Never for very long.

“Aiden! Business slow?”

“Nah. None of my assignments happen at a grocery store.” Aiden walks through the entrance and paces toward his black leather couch.

“Funny.” His voice always sounds off. “Funny guy. Speaking of, did you hear about..”

“Steven. Yeah.”

Tony kicks the fridge door shut with half a pack of crackers and half a log of summer sausage in his hands. “Someone just told me.”

“News travels.”

“Did you do it? I mean, I don't care. He's your friend and all.”

Aiden pulls his gun out and lays it on the end table next to the leather couch. It was the one apartment luxury he afforded himself.

“Outside of food what do you want?”

“He had something of interest.” Tony walks toward the couch.

“What type of interest?”

“Let's say... I could get Thad off your back.” He's smiling, like he's holding the biggest secret in the world and plans to dangle that fact over Aiden. Aiden is smarter than that.

Tony sits on the opposite sides of the couch, lowering himself into it. The sound from the cushions is loud.

“He had something Thad wants. Thad wants you dead. If you have what he wants...”

“Isn't it early to be brokering a deal?” he says wryly.

“Not in my line of work.”

True. Very true.

“What is it that Mister Brown is looking for?” Aiden smoothly asks, acting nonchalant.

“A movie.”

Bingo. The out-of-print blood-smeared DVD, now conveniently hiding in his glove compartment.

“Thad likes movies?”

“Thad likes money.”

“What does Thad want with the DVD? What's so important that's on it?”

Tony shrugs. He stuffs crackers into his mouth and chews loudly.

“Ah...” Aiden sat back. “Tell him that I don't know what the fuck he's talking about.”

“Is that your final answer?” It's muffled but Aiden gets the gist.

“With sugar on top.”

“Thad's not going to like it.”

Aiden bobs his head side-to-side in a way that said, well, whooped-dee-doo. “The feeling's mutual.”

Tony jumps up. “I'll tell him I didn't see you. Consider us 'even.'”

“Awfully big favor for some crackers and summer sausage.”

“I also ate up all your yogurt.”

Dammit. “I knew it was someone. Feel free to let yourself out.”

He turns and walks out of the apartment.

“Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.”

“I heard that!” he shouts, his footsteps and voice echoing off the staircase.